Theater of Marcellus: description and history

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Theater of Marcellus: description and history
Theater of Marcellus: description and history

Excursions in Italy offer tourists a lot of attractions. There are ancient squares and quarters, catacombs, majestic palaces and temples. One of the memorable places is the Theater of Marcellus in Rome.

The appearance of the monument

The ancient open-air theater is located on the left bank of the Tiber River. The place was not chosen by chance, because the Tiber is the main river of Rome. It was on it, according to legend, that the basket with Romulus and Remus, who founded the city, was launched. The walls of the theater were turned towards the city streets, and its stage went straight to the river.

From the outside, the architecture of the building may seem simple. However, several construction techniques were used for its construction. The materials used were Roman concrete, tuff and travertine. The building was decorated with marble statues, bronze vases, theatrical masks.

theater of marcellus

It was the theater of Marcellus that became the prototype of the well-known Colosseum. Initially, it had three floors, rising 30 meters up. The diameter of the amphitheater was about 130 meters. It could accommodate up to fifteen thousand spectators.

Each tier of the theater was distinguished by its architectural order. So, the floors supported the Doric,Ionic and Corinthian columns. The uppermost level with Corinthian columns has not survived to this day. There were only three such stone theaters in Rome, including Balba, Pompeii and Domitian's odeon.

Founding History

The theater of Marcellus was opened in 12 BC. This is one of the oldest buildings in Rome, preserved to this day. The building of the theater was started by Julius Caesar. It was completed already under the emperor Octavian Augustus, who dedicated it to his late nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The young man was destined to become the emperor's heir, but he died of an illness.

The architectural roots of the Roman theater go back to ancient Greek traditions. In Greece, it also had a radial shape. The difference lies in the higher stage of the Romans and the way the visual places were built (in Greece they were cut into the rock, and not built separately).

open air

Inside the theater of Marcellus was divided into sectors intended for different segments of the population. The most profitable and convenient places for viewing belonged to the local nobility. One place, separated from the rest, was occupied by the emperor. There were places reserved for women, separate for common people and slaves.

On the opening day, a statue of Claudius cast in bronze and covered with gold was placed on the stage. Very soon the theater became the most popular place in the city. Here they played comedies, tragedies, reproduced mythological scenes. By special order of Augustus, secular games were even held.

Theater reconstruction

For the entire existence of the Theater of Marcellushas gone through a number of changes. It was rebuilt in the 1st century during the reign of Vespasian, and then in the 3rd century by order of Alexander Severus. In the 4th century, the building was no longer used as a theater. It was abandoned, and the townspeople gradually began to dismantle the building for personal needs. Parts of the theater went to the construction of bridges and houses of local residents.

Later, the Favvi family used the building as a fortification, and even later, the Savelli family turned it into their palace. In the 16th century, the theater became the foundation for a family residence. The Orsini family, who bought it, preferred to turn the building into a Renaissance estate. After them, traders occupied the territory, placing shops around the entire perimeter.

theater of marcellus in rome

In the 20th century, all this stopped. Benito Mussolini undertook to rebuild the theater. He ordered the removal of all shops and outlets from the architectural monument. The building was restored from 1926 to 1932. The theater of Marcellus acquired its former appearance. The Renaissance annex was not destroyed, it still exists as a residential building.

Open Air Museum

It is currently a museum. This is the only surviving theater from the time of the Roman Empire. Hundreds of tourists visit the museum every day. Concerts, festivals and holidays are still held on the first tier.

excursions in italy

How to get to the theatre? The building is located on Via del Teatro di Marcello, near Piazza Venezia. There are many other interesting objects nearby, for example, Jewish District, Capitol, Bolshoya circus and an attraction called the Mouth of Truth. It is easily accessible on foot from the Circo Massimo metro station.

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